Luton Town have announced that they are to seek planning permission to build a new stadium, close to the town centre near to Luton Railway Station. For over ten years now the Club have been looking at ways that the Club could move to a new stadium and a number of schemes have been proposed, all of which entailed the Club moving out of Luton and relocating to sites near to the M1. During this period the club in fact acquired some land near to Junction 10 of the M1, but with changes in club ownership and a demise in the fortunes of the team leading to a lengthy spell in the Conference (sorry National….) League, meant that a new ground never materalised.
Unfortunately the location and restrictions placed upon the current Kenilworth Ground, the home of the Hatters since 1905, means that it is not really viable to redevelop with a new ground. For example the Club cannot build a stand higher that the surrounding houses on the Executive Stand side of the ground, hence why the small unusual looking current structure is in place.
The Executive Stand
(Note the height and proximity of houses behind)
This new announcement that the Club now seek to redevelop an area close to the town centre, with a new 17,500 capacity stadium, will be welcomed by many fans. If for no other reason, that I like many others, although appreciating the facilities at new out of town stadiums, vastly prefer to visit a football ground in the town itself. The opening of the New York Stadium in the centre of Rotherham in 2012, was one of the first to 'buck the trend' to move to away and it has been popular with home and visiting supporters alike, with one of the main factors being the easy access to the stadium by rail and the availability of existing eating and drinking establishments.
Luton hope that they can make the stadium a reality and be in place by 2020 and will submit a formal planning application in the Summer of 2016. However they will have overcome a number of obstacles to make the new stadium a reality. I wish them well.